Tristan Harris: Every Notification You Get ‘Schedules Your Thoughts’

Lessons from the former Google design ethicist's new TED talk.

Technology isn’t “evolving randomly,” Tristan Harris said in his new TED talk. And rather than focus solely on the future of tech—like artificial intelligence—Harris argues we should take a serious look at what technology doing to us now.

According to Harris, technology today has one goal: stealing our attention. Somewhere, a room full of people are designing the way your attention is going to be spent. Every single app, website or social media platform you use is tailored using neuroscience and psychology to keep you hooked and keep you scrolling for as long as possible. And while a room full of coders controlling your mind sounds like the stuff of science fiction, it’s not, Harris said. Every notification you get, every ding and chime, “schedules your thoughts.”

Harris, who partnered with Thrive Global to launch Time Well Spent, wants to educate people about how persuasive technology works so that we can be empowered and capable of regaining our time and attention.

Watch the entire TED talk below. 


Unplug and Recharge, Technology